Saturday, June 11, 2005

The Skeleton Rises

The Skeleton Rises

On the nightstand, the water glass sweats.
She’d take a sip, but the ice has already melted.
The fan shakes and shakes its head; she’s sick
to death of the vacillating, the constant negative,
the trickle. In a room exposed to the east,
she lays on a bed stripped of sheets and tries not to think
of bones, yet the skeleton rises, shows its white self, pressing
from the inside outward against the skin—is it possible
that her skin’s really that thin?--she can’t help
but stare at her knuckles as she tries to read a poem by Emily.
She tries not to breathe, less a conscious holding of breath
than a forgetting of the lungs’ mechanics. She tries not to think
of her body, this strange machine beyond her control,
this engine that runs and runs despite the obvious absence
of soul. It is the fan, not a fly that buzzes. She can’t bear
the heat despite having bared every inch of pale
skin; a rivulet crawls down the back of her neck
like a spider. She shakes her left leg to wake the comatose
extremity, but the foot refuses to be roused; the sole dreams
of walking away. Again, it is not a fly that buzzes.
Surely she is dead and this is hell. Light peers through the shade,
lasers its way through the mote-filled dark and lands
on her wrist where the skin is so thin it’s translucent
and veins squirm like worms barely contained just below
the surface. Even with this eastern exposure, she’s never
seen one of these sun rises. The summer stretches out
like a yawn that won’t shut its mouth, longer
than any unrequited longing she’s ever felt.
She doesn’t flinch when the fly alights on her screen.

3 comments:

Pris said...

Hi Laurel
Powerful subject matter here. It seems you and I are on death themes. Just a few suggestions/comments.

she lays on a bed stripped of sheets (should be 'she lies')

where the skin is so thin it’s translucent
and veins squirm like worms barely contained just below
the surface.(especially great line)

The summer stretches out
like a yawn that won’t shut its mouth (another great line)

She doesn’t flinch when the fly alights on her screen. (lights?--not sure)

A good write, as always, Laurel!
Pris

anders said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
anders said...

Yes: how authentically we appear to be sick in the presence of thoughts of death. The low cold drone of zoned-out Snoop backgrounding my/this typing, as I sit in a crease of humanity everlasting only so-so in history.

The integration of reading the poem from Emily -- a very clever and accurate realism is dislocated and reaffirmed inside your own peculiar mixture of mystery and cynicism. This will have to do, as our human interlude, the voice of the poem seems to say. Meaning squeezes like flesh from the bones, one might say. Almost Bataillian in her anger, Laurel gives us the hardcore tip like this:

She tries not to think
of her body, this strange machine beyond her control,
this engine that runs and runs despite the obvious absence
of soul.

Pretty raw, pretty scary. Then the ending is such a fresh roaring semi-buddhist mindrise opening, like Rumi down at the mall store just chilling at the zen calm immanence of it, what Milosz called, this unattainable earth:

The summer stretches out
like a yawn that won’t shut its mouth, longer
than any unrequited longing she’s ever felt.
She doesn’t flinch when the fly alights on her screen.


Laurel is a fine mixture and influence which it is a blessing to read. It's like sun reflecting off snow